I had earlier posted this item about a new public letter from Mayor Jeff Scrima describing his city's water needs and planning; Here is a link to several earlier letters and documents on the matter, and below is the full text of the letter.
Dear Citizens of Waukesha ,
The framers of the American democracy wisely built in a system of checks and balances. It’s clear you overwhelmingly elected me Mayor to provide checks and balances needed to, among other matters, properly frame the City’s water issue. An unchecked frame of reference, or starting presupposition, will provide proposed solutions to problems that are not in the best long-term interest of the Citizens. You’ve urged me to provide the balance as your representative of the City.
With your concerns in mind, I have raised questions about the Lake Michigan option and remain unconvinced that it is either the best solution for Waukesha or least expensive option.
Notwithstanding those recent concerns raised by the state DNR, reading the application and studying the issues reveal an imbalance related to assumptions made, conservation methods considered, and the long-term economic sovereignty of the City.
To move forward, the Citizens deserve a 100% transparent process, including:
1. A current independent scientific and fiscal evaluation of the costs of a Lake Michigan diversion as compared to the costs and feasibility of combining local alternatives, including the benefits of additional conservation measures. This must also include an evaluation of the three Lake Michigan source alternatives – Milwaukee , Oak Creek and Racine – and the return flow options, so the Citizens of Waukesha can see and know upfront what they are getting into.
All we know right now is that the Milwaukee option is estimated to cost $164 million, as the current Application specifically assumes connection to Milwaukee . However, this cost doesn’t include other long-term costs likely imposed by the Public Service Commission and the City of Milwaukee .
My job as Mayor is to speak for the Citizens. The cost of this independent study should be covered through the elimination of unnecessary consulting fees incurred by the Water Utility for lobbying efforts – specifically the $12,800 per month being paid to Martin Schreiber and Associates. Without independent assistance and advice, Citizens are left with data provided within the framework of Milwaukee water proponents.
2. A public presentation and hearing on: the application, the added materials the DNR recently asked for, the new independent scientific and fiscal evaluation on all alternatives, and the benefits of additional conservation measures. This is another example of the transparency and openness that is in the public interest. You as Citizens deserve further answers before the City agrees to permanently fill in our existing deep wells. Once the wells are filled in, there’s no going back – you’re stuck with Milwaukee water.
3. A process that is respectful of and works with our neighbors. As appealing as it may be to some, the City’s expanded water service territory into the Town of Waukesha , as outlined in the Application, is not in the long-term financial or environmental interests of either the City or our neighbors. You, the Citizens, deserve innovative alternatives that save money and better conserve water without making the substantial investment to move water a long distance from Lake Michigan to Waukesha . Continue to make your voices heard, after all, it’s your money.
Regarding the Application that was submitted, we are now waiting to hear back from the DNR – experts required to be independent from all sides, but who have to make sure the City meets the standards in the law and in the Great Lakes Compact. If we are to move forward, you the citizens expect it to be as comprehensive and transparent as possible to answer every possible question.
The critics have only one frame in mind, and are not interested in listening, asking additional questions, or pursuing innovative alternatives and conservation. An estimated $164 million to connect to Milwaukee water – what will the real cost be? Ask yourself – how many big government projects are completed within the initial cost estimate? How much will your water rates go up? Note that the Public Service Commission and the City of Milwaukee are currently seeking rate increases of over 40% to Mequon and New Berlin .
Powerful groups have framed the water issue to support the entire region and tie the City of Waukesha to the City of Milwaukee as the only viable option. You, the citizens, expect checks and balances not only from your Mayor but from all other Waukesha officials, elected or not. All must work in the same reasonable and transparent manner – you should expect it.
Jeff Scrima, Mayor